Reflecting on my life isn’t something I do all that often. I am not very introspective or intuitive. I tend to go with the flow of life, not really analyzing why things are happening and how I feel about certain situations. It works for me, but I’ve learned over the past year that intuition is important.
Being engaged to someone who is very introspective, I’ve learned some tips and tricks on analyzing life. I’ve started to think about my decisions, what I want out of life, and what triggers certain emotions that I get. So, going into my 23rd year of life, I’ve decided to be more intuitive and reflect on my life and emotions. And to be honest, it’s really freaking hard. Answering questions like, “What caused me to feel this way? What am I striving towards in life? Why do I react to certain situations in different ways?”
It’s the who, what, where, when, and why’s of life and I suck at it.
I’m pretty sure my fiancé can’t stand the fact that I can’t tell him how I feel about him without laughing because I feel so awkward. I’m a work in progress and I’m lucky enough to have someone so patient with me.
Over the weekend, my friends and I took a short camping trip to celebrate my birthday and get away from the busy life we have all succumbed to. I had some time to just lie down and reflect on this past year. The good and the bad and everything in between. So, here is some of what I learned while feelin’ 22.
1 – Brush off what others say about you
If someone wants to make a comment about your life, they’re going to. Most people think they have the wisdom of Yoda and know what is best for you, even though they know nothing about you. It might hurt and you might want to punch them in the face, but just remember that you are more in tune with your life than they are. The biggest one I got this year was, “Wow you’re so young to be getting married!” You think I don’t know that? To me, this translates to, “You shouldn’t get married so soon, you still have so much to experience.” It’s not like I’m going to stop living my life once I’m married. It’s going to be so much better because I’m sharing it with someone I can’t live without.
2 – Don’t use the popcorn button unless you like burnt popcorn
I’ve made this mistake once…or three times. Read the directions.
3 – Sometimes it’s okay to compare yourself to others, just do it in a healthy way
I’ve developed this unhealthy habit of comparing myself to others and completely tearing myself apart in the process. I’ll never be as smart, as thin, as creative, as whatever as them. It’s like life is a competition and I have to win, but in reality I make myself feel terrible. It’s unhealthy and I am tearing myself down instead of lifting myself up. But what I have learned is that you can compare yourselves to others in a healthy way. Incorporate those “comparisons” into your own life and use those people as inspiration and motivation to do/get what you want. I used to tell myself I’ll never be as good a writer as ___. But if I draw inspiration and study, I can achieve the same status if I really try.
4 – It’s perfectly fine to just have a job that pays the bills
While I constantly freak out that I need to get my life in order, sometimes I have to ask myself, “How many 22 year olds do you know that have their life figured out?” And the answer is about zero. As I talk with friends about what they want to do career wise, no one quite knows yet. Some are further along than others, but the majority of us are working jobs we like just to pay the bills and figure out what we really want to do. I’ve realized that a job is necessary to get by, and as long as I continue to reach for what I want, working just to pay the bills is normal.
5 – It’s okay to drink a whole bottle of wine…or two
I sometimes think I am invincible to alcohol and then I realize…I’m not. But I’ll always love wine.
6 – Don’t give up on your dream
If you have a goal or a dream, run with it. Run fast and run hard. Wherever you are in life, you’re closer than you were yesterday. No matter how big or how small, if you really want it, don’t give up. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not going to get anywhere if I don’t go after it. You truly have to believe in yourself and I promise it will be worth it.
7 – Say F U to beauty standards
But don’t shame those who look like those standards. I am all about the new trend of models breaking into the industry, embracing your flaws and curves, loving who you are. But here is the thing about our society, we support those who embody “real women” (what does this even mean?), yet shame those who have set those unrealistic standards. I don’t understand how one can say to embrace who you are, flaws and all, yet when a thin model does…she’s criticized for putting pressure on young girls to achieve unattainable standards. Like, no. That’s not how it works. Throw the middle finger high to those expectations that are put on women and rock who you are, but don’t throw a fit when someone else does the same thing.
8 – If you don’t want to do something, don’t
You are in control of your life and if you don’t want to do something just because, then don’t. There is no written rule that you have to go out with your friends every Friday night. If all you want to do is sit in your sweats and watch Netflix, do it! There is a difference between want and need. Most likely, you need to meet the deadline at work, or you need to go grocery shopping because you are on your last packet of oatmeal. This year I really learned the difference and it has helped me tremendously on what really matters in life.
9 – Maybe don’t take 5 shots of Jameson
Just like drinking two bottles of wine. Note that it might sound like a good idea during 4th of July, but you’ll be lying in bed sipping on ginger ale the rest of the night while your (now) fiancé keeps telling you this wasn’t your brightest decision. Hey, we live and we learn.
10 – Spend time outdoors
My favorite activities over this past year have been hiking and camping. No matter where I am, if I am outside, I’m a happy girl. There is something about being outside in the fresh air, feeling the sun against your skin, and hearing the sounds of the world around you, that is refreshing and relaxing. Spending time outdoors and exploring your surroundings gives you a different perspective of life than being locked in an office all day.
11 – Take the advice you give others
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty damn good at giving advice to others. But I suck at taking that advice and applying it to my own life. It’s a lot easier to tell someone else to do something than yourself. But before you start offering your best advice, really think about what you are saying. Think of ways you can apply it to certain situations in your life. I’ve really started listening to my suggestions and have taken a bit of my advice (I am by no means an expert), but it helps because you can show that person you are taking the same steps that you are offering to them.
12 – Having a plant at your desk instantly brightens your mood
I have four. I might be the crazy plant lady at work.
13 – You won’t get what you want by not chasing after it
Not many people in this world get things handed to them on a silver platter. Those people that do will never truly understand the definition of hard work. If you want something you have to go after it. If there is anything I’ve learned from being with my fiancé, is that determination, hard work and chasing your dreams will land you where you want to be. It might take a really long time, but this goes back to never giving up on your dream. You want it, go for it.
14 – If you don’t feel well, call out sick at work
Confession: This is a struggle for me and I am getting better at it. I have to give props to my fiancé for always convincing me to call out sick whenever I felt like death. For some reason I have this thought that I’ll be fine and can get through the day sitting at a desk even though I want to cry because I feel so sick. And that thought is usually wrong. You have sick time for a reason…use it.
15 – Make time to exercise
No matter what it is, get out and move. Ever since high school I’ve been pretty active. This doesn’t mean that I love to work out though. To be honest, I kind of dread it. But I do it anyways because when I can run one mile further or lift 10 pounds heavier, I’m proud of myself. I used to have an unhealthy mindset toward exercise. I did it only to lose weight and when I wouldn’t drop a pound, I beat myself up about it. But now, I exercise to stay healthy, to reach a goal and to feel energized. I actually look forward (sometimes) to being able to strap up my Nikes and hit the pavement.
16 – Traveling with a loved one teaches you a lot about one another
Especially when it’s a 16 hour drive and you’re insanely cranky. The first trip my fiancé and I took together was a 4 day road trip up to Portland, Oregon. We split the first part of the drive into 2 days, but the drive back was from 8:00am to 11:00pm. Let me tell you, you learn a lot about someone by the way they drive. Our relationship was tested in different ways while being locked in a car for 16 hours. We grew closer together and learned so much about one another.
17 – Buy the concert tickets
Because seeing photos and videos of your favorite musician of the show you could be at, is the most depressing thing in the world.
18 – Do what you love no matter what anyone says
Have you ever been afraid to try something because you were worried what others would think? Or worried you’d fail? It’s time to step away from those fears and do what you want because you want to. No matter what people say, have the confidence to do what you love. That confidence will only prove to them that you are better. For a long time I never shared my writing because I thought I sucked and I didn’t want to be judged. But to be honest, life is too short to worry what other people think and even if I do suck, I’m enjoying it.
19 – Encourage those around you and they’ll encourage you
I’m a big fan of lifting others up. I love supporting my friends and family. It is a way for me to express my love for them. Even if you don’t know the words to say, being a shoulder to lean on during a tough time can really do wonders for others. It’s amazing the response you get when you are just plain nice to people.
20 – Stop trying to be a perfectionist and enjoy the flaws of life
This is something that is pretty difficult for me. I like to be a perfectionist and always want everything to run smoothly. When they don’t, I stress out to the max. This year I have learned to just laugh things off because life’s going to happen and you can’t do much about it. Enjoy life how it is, flaws and all. Don’t try to change every detail. Just take it as it is and accept that the world will throw you curve balls. You can either freak out or learn to just go with.
21 – Don’t set up a tent at 10pm at night
Unless you really want to try fumbling around in the pitch black of the night and yelling at the tent because it’s not cooperating.
22 – Learn to love and accept yourself
Another confession: This is the hardest thing in my life. For some reason or another, humans are extremely capable of hating our own self, yet loving those around us. We are our own harshest critics. Why is it so easy to tell others to love themselves, but so hard for us to do it ourselves? Why can’t we be accepting of who we are, flaws and all? This year has put me in many situations, where if I didn’t love and accept myself, I don’t really know who I would be today. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s really freakin’ hard. It truly grows from within and stabilizes with support and love from family and friends. I have learned to love my belly after eating too much fondue. I have learned to accept that sometimes my brain can’t figure everything out. I have learned that I am good enough. I am worthy. I am loved.